Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

July 6, 2018

The Citizen

Filed under: Counterpunch,Film — louisproyect @ 2:30 pm


When I was in high school, I had a very good English teacher who after assigning Henrik Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” warned us to pay careful attention to the pistols in Act One that Hedda Gabler shows off to a houseguest. They were inherited from her father and supposedly useful for killing time in a stultifying bourgeois household. Whenever you see a pistol or a knife in a play early on, he told us, that creates an uneasy foreshadowing of their being used in the final act. The titular character, bored and frustrated in the same way as Madame Bovary and other Victorian-era housewives, does end up shooting herself in the head.

At the beginning of “The Citizen”, a Hungarian film directed by Roland Vranik that opens today at the Metrograph theater in New York, we meet the main character Wilson Ugabe, a refugee from Guinea-Bissau, being grilled by a Hungarian immigration official, a member of a three-person panel, to determine whether he is entitled to become a citizen. “Tell me something about Hungarian art in the Renaissance.” “Do you remember what the Corvins were?” “Humanism”? Wilson remains silent, as you’d expect from having to take the Hungarian version of a test African-Americans took during the Jim Crow era to become registered to vote.

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  1. We have similar kinds of nonsense going on in the UK (not to speak of the US).


    Comment by Jim Farmelant — July 6, 2018 @ 4:47 pm

  2. This is a universal problem. I played baseball in the late 50’s with a great outfielder who happened to be Black. He was so good he got a couple of tryouts with major league teams I remember the Reds for one but he wasn’t quite good enough and by 1961 he was done with school and unemployed. As it happened the Boilermakers started a national apprentice program about a year before and I knew someone who was in the program. I hooked my friend up with him and he helped him study for the exam that he eventually got to take. He passed the exam and during the interview they asked for a birth certificate, now he had been coached to bring the birth certificate which he turned over they then asked for a baptismal certificate which he could not produce and was disqualified. As they say the more things change the more they stay the same.

    Comment by Michael Tormey — July 6, 2018 @ 7:06 pm

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